The phrase “independent author” can bring mucho confusion. What the heck does it mean? Well, Miss Thang, I’m here to explain. Take a seat, grab a rice krispie treat, and chillax:

Sometimes, words can be better described by what they aren’t, than by what they are. I think this rings true when discussing an ‘independent’ author. ‘Independent’ means you are NOT dependent. So, an independent author is NOT dependent.

Let’s move on…

What is an “independent publisher?” Well, because it’s ‘independent’, the company is basically saying “We are NOT dependent on something.” In this case, that something is essentially Big 6 publishers and/or the more classical ways of doing business. These indie houses are basically indie because they choose to do things a bit differently than the largest publishing houses. Examples of independent publishers are Sourcebooks, Entangled, Flux, etc.

Okay, so if you are an author published by an indie publishing house, does that make you an indie author?


Why? Because you are dependent on them. You depend on an editor to get back to you with their notes whenever they feel like it. You depend on a graphic designer to provide you a book cover…which depicts whatever they think works. You depend on a publicist to get your book into the hands of people he/she believes are influential. You depend on your house to get your books printed and stocked in bookstores. And mainly, you depend on your publishing house to send your ass royalty checks.

You are not independent.

So, who is an independent author?

It’s someone who hires and fires individuals (not a single company) to work on their book. They hire who THEY want for their book cover. They hire someone else to edit their work, etc. Or, maybe they say “F it” and do all those jobs themselves. This is what makes an “independent author.”

If you sign a contract with any publishing house that offers their services for free, and the house pays YOU an advance and/or royalties, then you are a traditionally published author.

Neither one is better than the other. My advice would be to try both avenues. A traditional publishing house will better your book’s quality more than you would on your own (yes, they will). And publishing independently will teach you how hard the people in traditional publishing work. It’ll also teach you how to be more business-minded, and grant you complete creative freedom and higher royalty percentages.

Hope this helps!

I’d love to hear your feedback! Is this how you perceive things? Have a different idea? Let me know! 🙂